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Open Access Research

Development of a Multiple-Locus Variable number of tandem repeat Analysis (MLVA) for Leptospira interrogans and its application to Leptospira interrogans serovar Australis isolates from Far North Queensland, Australia

Andrew T Slack*, Michael F Dohnt, Meegan L Symonds and Lee D Smythe

Author Affiliations

WHO/FAO/OIE Collaborating Centre for Reference & Research on Leptospirosis, Centre for Public Health Sciences, Queensland Health Scientific Services, Brisbane, Australia

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Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials 2005, 4:10  doi:10.1186/1476-0711-4-10

Published: 30 June 2005

Abstract

Background

Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease caused by the genus, Leptospira. Leptospira interrogans is the most common genomospecies implicated in the disease. Epidemiological investigations are needed to distinguish outbreak situations or to trace reservoirs of the organisms. Current methodologies used for typing Leptospira have significant drawbacks. The development of an easy to perform yet high resolution method is needed for this organism.

Methods

In this study we have searched the available genomic sequence of L. interrogans serovar Copenhageni strain Fiocruz L1-130 for the presence of tandem repeats [1]. These repeats were evaluated against reference strains for diversity. Six loci were selected to create a Multiple Locus Variable Number of Tandem Repeats (VNTR) Analysis (MLVA) to explore the genetic diversity within L. interrogans serovar Australis clinical isolates from Far North Queensland.

Results

The 39 reference strains used for the development of the method displayed 39 distinct patterns. Diversity Indexes for the loci varied between 0.80 and 0.93 and the number of repeat units at each locus varied between less than one to 52 repeats. When the MLVA was applied to serovar Australis isolates three large clusters were distinguishable, each comprising various hosts including Rattus species, human and canines.

Conclusion

The MLVA described in this report, was easy to perform, analyse and was reproducible. The loci selected had high diversity allowing discrimination between serovars and also between strains within a serovar. This method provides a starting point on which improvements to the method and comparisons to other techniques can be made.